I distinctly recall the last time I stayed in a tent. It was in a caravan park in Mallacoota – we were living in Bombala at the time – and I must have been about 13.
It was a 6 man tent and the 4 of us kids lay in our sleeping bags at the back of the tent, with a divider down the middle separating where Mum and Dad were. An annexe at the front held our kitchen stuff. I remember plenty about that experience:
- How uncomfortable it was to sleep
- How there was no privacy
- How you had to climb over everyone and go to the amenities block to use the toilet
- How uncomfortable it was to sleep
I also recall how when the wind came up we couldn’t leave the tent in case it blew away…but that’s another story that we all still laugh about.
We had camped before that trip – in sleeping bags on hard ground on a bush block outside of Merriwa – where we were living at the time. The toilet on that occasion was a spade with a toilet roll on the end. We still laugh about that too.
To say I didn’t enjoy the whole camping/tent thing would be a gross understatement. In fact, I vowed I’d never do it again – the camping or the tent thing – despite the laughs nearly 40 years later.
Age, however, mellows…or something like that… Since we’ve been in Queensland I’ve been flirting with the idea of both caravanning and camping – even though my husband has:
- done a cost-benefit analysis on owning a van vs staying in country motels – including the fuel consumption of towing a van, site fees and…I could go on
- pointed out how I need a bathroom under the same roof
- pointed out how I sleep so lightly that a frog farting in a car on a highway 5 miles away is enough to keep me awake
- pointed out that I have trust issues with regards to space, privacy and the ability to lock myself away securely.
- pointed out that my hair has a tendency to go to dreadlocks when out in the great outdoors
Sure, he has a point – several, in fact – but I’ve pointed out:
- how much fun it is to cook outside
- how much fun it is to eat outside
- how great it is to get away from noise
- how the bush has its own sounds
- how the stars are so clear in the dark
- how amazing birds sound in the country
- how much we both enjoy our Eucumbene trips
- how we need to push boundaries every so often
- how he keeps telling me he was a boy scout
- life is too short to worry about dreadlocks
- Adventure before dementia
The compromise? Glamping. And that’s where Ketchup’s Bank comes in.
Ketchup’s Bank is located in the Scenic Rim region of South East Queensland – just an hour from Brisbane and the same from the Gold Coast. The closest town, Boonah, is a 15-minute scenic drive away – longer if you stop for photos.
There are restaurants, pubs and a huge IGA supermarket in Boonah – for all your camp kitchen needs.
Take every preconceived notion you have about tents and throw them out of your mind. Are they gone? Good. This tent is certainly nothing like that brown and orange tent of my memory.
For a start, it has a bed – and a very comfy queen bed it is, with fluffy doonas and proper pillows. There’s a couple of chairs, a bar fridge for your supplies, a TV for DVDs only (thankfully no TV reception) and a small collection of DVDs.
Then there’s a bathroom – with a toilet that flushes and a shower that’s hot. You can leave the curtain and the tent flap open and shower with the bush, the birds and the wallabies. I chose not to scare the wildlife.
There was also a covered deck area that was obviously built just for me to do some copy editing from. As an aside, that whole business about writing drunk and editing sober is a fallacy…just saying.
The rain poured down on Friday night and we were warm, cozy and dry in our tent. I will admit to feeling a tad exposed without a door that could be locked, but I managed to get over that.
It’s a camp kitchen – but amped up. As well as a campfire with plenty of firewood and a few different sized Dutch ovens, there’s also a barbecue and most of the utensils you’ll need to whip up a great meal.
We prepared beef stroganoff on the first night, cooked up an incredible breakfast the following morning using the provisions in the breakfast hamper that we’d pre-ordered, and had pork chops with sauteed potatoes, green beans and a creamy pepper sauce on the second night. All prepared, cooked and eaten outside. You even boil the kettle for your tea on the barbie – or the billy. Don’t worry if you can’t do without your morning caffeine hit, Ketchup’s supply ground coffee and a plunger.
Somehow those eggs tasted even better knowing that we could personally thank the ladies who’d laid them for us.
Because we weren’t sure what we’d find in the way of nibbly things at Boonah, we’d also ordered an antipasto platter to accompany our drinks on Friday night. It was so generous we saved it for lunch on Saturday instead.
Around the property
There are a series of walks around the property – the scenery and birdlife are fabulous.
At night the stars are clearer than stars have a right to be, and in the late afternoon and early morning, there’s always the possibility of a visitor of the wallaby kind. As an aside, when driving into the property, keep an eye out – they have a habit of bursting out of the scrub and bouncing across the road.
Other bits and pieces…
Ketchup’s Bank currently has two eco-tents. The other was occupied on the weekend we were there, but we saw and heard little from our “neighbours”.
They don’t cater to children and there is no cellphone reception – although there is wi-fi, enough to allow you to post to Instagram or google the following days’ activities.
If you want more information, you can find it here.
Will we do it again? Yep. I’m a convert. Hear the serenity.
While in the Scenic Rim…
Scenic Rim Brewery
Don’t miss the chance to visit the Scenic Rim Brewery. With beers named Digga, Shazza, Fat Man and Phar-Que how could you not? We were there because we’d heard the bitterbollans (Dutch meatballs) were amazing – which they were.
They also have a loaded chiko roll on the menu…don’t ask!
Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm
I nearly didn’t mention this place – mainly because we rocked on up on Saturday (in the rain) and they were closed without explanation. So why am I telling you? Partly because it’s one of the main attractions in the area – seemingly with a humungous marketing budget and poor communications – but mostly because I wanted an excuse to post the pictures of the lavender that I got soaked taking. That’s why.
This was a gem of a place – and possibly the most enjoyable and least pretentious wine tasting we’ve ever had. Dave pulled up a chair and a table and sat down and we chatted. There’s nothing sleek, posh or whatever about Bunjurgen – and that’s a great thing.
They grow 2 grape varieties – chambourcin and shiraz. When the climate does the right thing by them they make wine – rose, a mixed red, and a couple of ports – and when it’s too hot and wet to make wine, they make grape juice or verjuice. Too easy.
I reckon that I learnt more about winemaking in this climate than I’ll ever need to know – and so much more – but all via stories and good humour. We could have stayed and talked for ages.